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Am I nuts? (rhetorical question, don't answer)

DCWDCW Posts: 6,887 ✭✭✭✭✭

May I present my latest purchase, a seven hundred and fifty dollar nut.
This is a unique piece of artwork from renowned die sinker, John Adams Bolen, carved in 1903 on a nearly 3 inch Tagua Nut. It's known as "vegetable ivory" because of its resemblance to animal tusks.

Bolen struck many medals in the 1860s through 1880s. He is probably most fondly remembered for the Pioneer Base Ball Club medal, which is said to be the first depiction of our national pastime in medallic form:

He was a true artist, and when he retired, he began to carve figurines out of hard Tagua Nuts to keep himself busy. Where in the world he got tagua nuts is anyone's guess. They only grow on palm trees in South American tropical rain forests, quite a ways from Massachusetts! This one is beautifully fashioned into a gargoyle and is signed "JA Bolen, 1903" on the base, two years before his death.
I have seen others dated 1905, but none this early. These never come up for sale, so I had to go for it! I'd love to hear your comments.

Thanks for looking!

Dead Cat Waltz Exonumia
"Coin collecting for outcasts..."


  • scubafuelscubafuel Posts: 1,716 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That’s awesome! Another great piece for your Bolen collection.
    Artists never really retire, they just change mediums. Even Bill Watterson is still doing paintings.

  • pursuitoflibertypursuitofliberty Posts: 6,505 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @DCW You are nuts!! But having you share things here is wonderful! Don't ever change my friend!!

    “We are only their care-takers,” he posed, “if we take good care of them, then centuries from now they may still be here … ”

    Todd - BHNC #242
  • RobertScotLoverRobertScotLover Posts: 515 ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 17, 2023 8:35AM

    I believe you are nuts for nut carving done by Bolen or whomever. However I love your Bolen copper Baseball token., but you already know how magnificent it is
    At minimum we know no where the idea & image of the Hulk originated from

  • DCWDCW Posts: 6,887 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It's funny you say that, because the Hulk immediately came to my mind when I saw this, too. Stan Lee must have used this as inspiration! 😆 Boy, the value just increased, didn't it?

    There were two other Bolen carvings in this Stacks auction, but this one spoke to me. I tried for them all, actually. That's how nuts I am. I mean why buy one when you can have three at triple the price, right? 😆

    Alas, someone wanted them more. The other two went to a hardcore Bolen collector for a little less than this one. The Stacks app froze and wouldn't let me keep bidding, essentially saving me from myself. 😆

    Dead Cat Waltz Exonumia
    "Coin collecting for outcasts..."

  • RobertScotLoverRobertScotLover Posts: 515 ✭✭✭✭

    I understand, I have a few Bolen pieces too

  • Mr_SpudMr_Spud Posts: 4,201 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 17, 2023 12:23PM

    That’s actually awesome, and no worse than the stuff I end up purchasing. I too thought of the Hulk as my first impression, until I looked closer at the hair and not it looks like the Jolly Green Giant 🤔


  • davewesendavewesen Posts: 5,676 ✭✭✭✭✭

    is the nut shellacked or something to keep it from rotting? or would that decrease value as altered surface?

  • DCWDCW Posts: 6,887 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It doesn't rot like a traditional nut. They call this "vegetable ivory" because people have been making buttons and such from them for centuries. It's a very hard substance.

    Dead Cat Waltz Exonumia
    "Coin collecting for outcasts..."

  • JBKJBK Posts: 14,530 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'd call it an ogre rather than a gargoyle but who knows...

    In any case, I don't think he was nuts for carving it or you are for collecting it. What is totally nuts to me is that this was preserved, and attributed, no less, for 120 years. 😳

  • OnastoneOnastone Posts: 3,743 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 28, 2023 9:43AM

    Very interesting nut carving!!! As to what he resembles most, I'd agree with the Hulk. There were lot's of great suggestions...

  • OnastoneOnastone Posts: 3,743 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @gonzer said:

    Seriously? ;)

    I had to slip one Red Herring in!!

  • JWPJWP Posts: 16,482 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I was sent to inspect your item

    USN & USAF retired 1971-1993
    Successful Transactions with more than 100 Members

  • TomBTomB Posts: 20,612 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I think it's fantastic!

    Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

    In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson

  • PerryHallPerryHall Posts: 45,199 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @TomB said:
    I think it's fantastic!

    I think that cat is evil! ;)

    Worry is the interest you pay on a debt you may not owe.

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